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Microsoft slips Bing search into Android through Outlook (Updated)
- Users who install Outlook for Android have seen a Bing search option creep into long-press menus.
- It’s not the first time Microsoft has used Android features to promote its services.
Update: July 15, 2020 at 5:29 PM ET: In an email, Microsoft confirmed the news to Android Authority that Bing has indeed been added to the list of search engines in certain parts of Android after installing the Outlook app. The company claims this addition has no impact on users’ default search engines on their phones.
Android users have discovered that Outlook slips a “Bing search” option into the long-press menu you see when you select text. Tap it and it will open your default browser with a Bing query for whatever words you had selected. It’s helpful, but likely not what you wanted if you live in a Google-centric world.
The menu option doesn’t appear for everyone, and some have reported success in getting rid of it by uninstalling Outlook. It might not even be visible if you reinstall the app. It doesn’t appear to be available when you install other Microsoft apps beyond Bing.
We’ve asked Microsoft for comment, although this isn’t a completely novel strategy. The company slipped suggestions for its own apps into Android’s share menu in 2019.
There is an incentive for the company to experiment with features like this.
Microsoft is using built-in Android functionality to add the Bing search option. It’s not compromising your device or otherwise going out of bounds, then. However, the practice might not find many fans. The company is promoting Bing to users who didn’t expect it (and frequently didn’t want it) on their devices in any form, let alone system-wide.
There is an incentive for the company to experiment with features like this. Bing had just under 2.8% of search engine usage share in June 2020, according to StatCounter. While that’s larger than most of the competition, it pales compared to Google’s 91.75% share. Microsoft has a lot of ground to cover if it’s going to be more competitive, and suggesting Bing searches to millions of users there have been over 100 million downloads as we write this) theoretically helps close the gap.